Barry Lee always thought his calling was to be a teacher, but life has a way of working in surprising ways. It wasn’t until after a successful 40-year career in the private sector that he finally found himself sitting in a tiny chair, surrounded by children in a classroom.
For the past 10 years since retiring, Barry has volunteered in his community in various ways. Dedicated to education, Barry has spent the last three years as a weekly volunteer in our Preschool P.A.L.S. classroom. When asked why he chooses to spend his free time in the busy environment of a classroom, he replies, “When I retired I asked myself, ‘Who am I to think that I can take the rest of my life off?’”
“Mr. Barry” as he is known in the classroom, dove headfirst into his work with the children. Working off verbal cues from the teachers and incorporating learning opportunities into playtime, he really feels like he is making a difference. “I’ve heard people think that volunteering with children at this age is babysitting. That is definitely not the case. It didn’t take me long to discover that they are really bright young individuals,” Barry explains.
His favorite moments at Way to Grow are the ones when the children have a “big-eyed” moment. “They have that epiphany, that moment of discovery and connection of what they learned and that they can actually use it. That feeling leaves me flying high for four to five days,” he notes.
“Muhammad Ali once said, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth,’” Barry reflects. “These children count on me. If I can fulfill my soul and improve the future of a child at the same time, I know I will have done my part.”